Say It Ain’t So

Is there anyone left who can start a sentence with a word other than, “So”?

This article will be used as an example. Many more can be found.

Sixty-eight (68) sentences in the interview transcript included the word “so” in the first two words of that sentence. (“So”, “Yeah so”, and “And so”. “Also” was not counted.)

A few run-on sentences could also have been counted where the second sentence should have started, but weren’t.

Is this level of literacy acceptable coming from a professor of communications (she did it much more often than he did, although she is just an associate professor) and a journalist? (Scientists are especially vulnerable to this affliction, but they are not expected to have studied language.)

Should someone with this level of expertise (in her own field) be allowed to coin phrases which are then used as industry standards?

Another indicator of poor language skills is the use of the word “that” in place of the word “who,” as in, “The man THAT did the thing…” but this is so rampant as to be considered normal.

These are only the tip of the iceberg as far as poor language skills in the media go, but they serve as good examples. I am not alone in noticing this trend.

This from a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute. “I have noticed that in my most recent focus groups I use the word ‘so’ rather excessively. Many of my sentences start with “So, …”, and the word also appears somewhat randomly in the middle of a sentence. Analysing the transcripts, this really gets on my nerves.

From “…the sentence-initial so is a way for the speaker to subtly cue to the listener that the following information is relevant to the listener’s interests.

Is this being used to manage or lead conversations, or is it just plain bad English? Either way, it’s annoying.

Semi-literate individuals should not be making (so much) money from their use of language. Like the semi-literate Jake Tapper who thinks ‘Mexican’ is a race… the dictionary definition of the term, in fact.

The dumbing-down of people and Orwellian double-speak both have their roots in this problem. The next step is changing or conflating the meaning of words, examples of which are so common that they need not be mentioned here.